Adrian Otaegui has won the Scottish Championship and Jason Kokrak the CJ Cup. Steve Rawlings looks back at their wins and forward to Augusta with his customary Monday morning piece...
"A bang-in-form Hatton, who’s won three of his last 14 starts at 40.039/1 is far more attractive than the 13.012/1 being offered up about Rory."
Matt Wallace began the fourth and final round of the Scottish Championship with a three stroke lead and the pre-event 13.5 favourite was matched at a low of 1.374/11 but he was never at the races on Sunday after a bogey at the first.
England's Garrick Porteous, a pre-tournament 360.0359/1 chance, matched at a high of 510.0509/1 when the market first opened, hit a low of 3.02/1 when he birdied three in-a-row from the fourth to tie Wallace before Adrian Otaegui took up the running with four birdies in five from the fifth.
In search of his third European Tour title but his first stroke play win, Otaegui was an 85.084/1 chance before the off (matched at a high of 90.089/1) and having led by three strokes following a sensational ten-under-par 62 on Thursday, he was tied for the lead with Wallace at halfway after a more sedate two-under-par 70 on Friday. The Spaniard trailed Wallace by four with a round to go, after another 70 on Saturday, and having been trading at around 12.5 on Sunday morning, he soon put the tournament to bed with three more birdies in-a-row after a bogey at the 10th.
It was a superb performance by the 27-year-old Spaniard and he rounded the week off in style, birdying three of the last four holes to fire a nine-under-par 63 for a convincing four-stroke victory.
Over in the States, at the CJ Cup, like Wallace, Russell Henley also began the final round with a three-stroke lead and he started nicely enough, birdying the opening hole to shorten up to 2.021/1 but that was as good as it got for the pre-event 150.0149/1 chance, who was matched at a high of 170.0169/1. Henley played the next eight holes in one-over-par and it was left to the well-fancied Xander Schauffele and pre-event 120.0119/1 chance, Jason Kokrak, to fight out the finish.
Having led by three at halfway, Xander had been matched at odds-on during the second round and he dominated the market deep into the back-nine yesterday as he and Kokrak pulled clear of the rest.
Kokrak had gone two clear when he birdied the 10th and 11th holes but he and Schauffele were tied again after the 13th hole following three birdies in-a-row by Xander.
Schauffele, who hit a low of 1.412/5 , was the one the market favoured strongly as the pair went toe-to-toe down the stretch but when he bogeyed the par five 16th, Kokrak went one clear with two to play and he never looked back after that.
The 35-year-old, who was looking for his first win on the PGA Tour in his 233rd start, made the simplest of pars at the par three 17th before this booming drive on 18 set up a straightforward birdie four that saw him win by two.
It was a week to forget for me, exemplified perfectly by the two pre-event picks I had left on the fringes of contention going into the final round.
At the Scottish Championship, Eddie Pepperell entered the final round only two behind the eventual winner but he faded after playing his first seven holes in three-over-par and Jason Day, who had began the final round of the CJ Cup just two strokes behind Kokrak, fared even worse than Pepperell - recording a triple-bogey seven at the first before withdrawing on the second hole with a neck injury.
There are always positives to be drawn though, and the fact that I didn't get any further involved in-running over the weekend, after the halfway stage, was definitely a plus.
I had been tempted to back Wallace after his slow start to round four in Scotland but didn't and I would have layed Kokrak at odds-on when he led by two with seven to play but his price just held up at above evens. It had dipped to 1.84/5 when he momentarily led by three, before Schauffele made his seven foot birdie putt at 11 and when Xander birdied the next two to tie Kokrak, I was kicking myself for not getting stuck in but I was glad I hadn't in the end.
Hatton holds his form ahead of Augusta
Tyrrell Hatton, who won the BMW-PGA Championship a week ago, finished an impressive tied third in the CJ Cup, despite a 20-hour, jetlag-inducing journey following his Wentworth win and he's now a solid 40.039/1 chance to win the US Masters, which Dave Tindall's taken an early look at here.
He's shortened up from the 50.049/1 he traded at a week ago but that price still looks fair to me given how well he's playing, how often he wins and how well suited his game should be to Augusta.
Bryson DeChambeau heads the Masters market, closely followed by Rory McIlroy but the Irishman makes little appeal. He's slowly creeping in to form but there's always the chance of a destructive spell and last week's came at the end of the tournament. Having stood on the 14th tee on four-under-par for the day yesterday, McIlroy took 27 strokes to play his last five holes to tumble outside the top-20 again.
A bang-in-form Hatton, who's won three of his last 14 starts at 40.039/1 is far more attractive than the 13.012/1 being offered up about Rory.
The Irishman has just two top-tens from 11 starts since the restart but given how the PGA Tour season's panning out so far, maybe we should be looking for an outsider...
Veteran outsiders enjoying a good run
The PGA Tour has been a tough gig for us punters so far this season with the majority of titles being won by outsiders and veterans.
Stewart Cink kicked the 2020/21 season off by winning the Safeway Open, 11 years after he'd won the Open Championship. That was a long time between drinks for the 47-year-old and it was perhaps not surprising that he was a 570.0569/1 chance before the off.
At 26, the US Open winner, Bryson DeChambeau, is the youngest winner of the season so far and having been a general 30.029/1 chance before the off, he's by some margin the shortest price winner of the season to date.
Following DeChambeau's demolition job at Winged Foot, 33-year-old 300.0299/1 chance, Hudson Swafford, who was matched at a high of 370.0369/1 before the off, won the Corales Puntacana R & C Championship and a week later, with form figures before the event reading MC-66-MC-MC, 40-year-old 70.069/1 chance, Sergio Garcia, won the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Having been matched at 400.0399/1 when the market first opened, 37-year-old, Martin Laird, who was generally a 250.0249/1 chance before the off, won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas last week, more than seven years after he'd won his last PGA Tour title.
These early season, largely low grade affairs, are tough to get a handle on and although the field was much stronger at the CJ Cup, we had the added burden of a largely unknown venue.
As it transpired, Kokrak was quite familiar with Shadow Creek but I'm not sure it would have prompted me to back him even if I'd have known that before the off. After so long on the PGA Tour without a win, he's a player I tend to ignore. An amazing talent form tee-to-green, Kokrak's usually let down by his putting but that clicked this week and the rest, as they say, is history.
Following on from the CJ Cup, which should have been played in Korea, the PGA Tour moves on to California for the Zozo Championship - an event that should have been played in Japan. And on the European Tour, we have the Italian Open to look forward to. Both events begin on Thursday and I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my previews.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
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